Monday, March 19, 2012

A much needed night out

When you have 6 kids and live in a 9x12 house with only two beds, there's not much space for privacy. Or time alone as a couple. For any of you who have come on teams down to Los Anonos, Costa Rica, you all know who I'm talking about. We're technically not supposed to have favorites, but I have to say this family is one of my favorites here. Alejandro and Verania live up in the Mangoes on the other side of the bridge from our house. The whole family lives in one room in front of Doña Fransisca, Alejandro's mother's, house. At the bottom of the stairs leading to their house is a small, open shack where Doña Fransisca has a thriving business selling handmade tortillas baked over an open flame, fresh smokey cheeses, and other Nicaraguan delicacies.
Alejandro and Verania's six kids tend to melt the hearts of every team that passes through the Harvest Hands house. Nicol (10), Alexander (8), Antoni (6), Clyde (4), Joshua (2 and a half), and Genesis (17 months) are some of the happiest, bounciest, most trusting kids I've encountered yet in this world. If they're not jumping into the open arms of an American, showing off their salsa skills, coloring, or jumping around like hot potatoes, they are most likely climbing the walls of their house. Literally. They always have huge smiles and love meeting new friends.
Most teams that come down spend time up at Alejandro and Verania's house. Playing with the kids and getting to know the family. David also has a weekly Bible study up at their house and he enjoys taking teams up there. Doña Fransisca always makes some tasty treat to enjoy, too! 
The family at their wedding this past December!!

This past week the Portland, Maine team has been working up behind Doña Fransisca's house. The men of the team have been building a house for Alejandro's sister, Jacqueline, and her three kids. They have made an amazing connection with the whole family. Last night they decided to bless the family by giving Alejandro and Verania a much needed night off...Sans children! The team gave the deserving couple money to take a taxi and go to the restaurant of their choice while the team took all six kids, plus Jacqueline's oldest daughter, Hellen (11) out for dinner as well. What a treat!!!

 Verania and Alejandro got ALL dressed up! 
Verania looked GORGEOUS!!!!
They decided to go to a Japanese hibachi grill.

We piled Alejandro's six plus Hellen in the van. They asked where we were going. When we told them McDonald's you should have heard them squeal and scream!! You would have thought we told them we were taking them to Disney World. Alexander climbed into the front seat of the van with me and asked, "Are we really going to McDonald's? You're not lying, right? God doesn't like liars." I love that kid. Nicol asked if they could get "Cajitas Feliz" (Happy Little Boxes, or what we like to call "Happy meals" ). Again with the squeals and cheering with an affirmative answer!!!
 Upon arrival the first matter of duty was the Play Place!!! Shoes were everywhere. Sweatshirts came flying off. And off they went into the depths of playland.

 Even the babies ventured in...for a short time.

 Bring on the "Happy Little Boxes"
From Nicol down to Genesis there was much rejoicing and munching. Interestingly enough, the older children ate only half of their meals, carefully wrapping them up to take home for a later meal. Thank goodness I always carry a sharpie marker in my bag...carefully labeled names on each box prevented arguments and the eating of other siblings meals!! They chugged their drinks and asked for refills, which they also put in their happy boxes to bring back with them. They were well behaved and polite. 

The team did a great job corralling the kids and keeping track of them in the busy restaurant. It's amazing how universal kids really are. They are all fascinated by the cheap-o toys in those magical red boxes. They can make even a non-Spanish speaker understand their need for the bathroom. And they can make a grown man bend low to tie their shoe laces with the simplest bat of an eye (thanks again, Mario, for lacing up Hellen's 87 million eyelet-lace-up-bright-pink-flowery-boots!!!) After many trips to the bathroom, the play place, and the coca cola machine, we trooped the kids back out to the van.

What a wonderful treat!!! And what a simple way of sharing God's love: with a meal out that otherwise would not be affordable or practical for a family of eight from Los Anonos.


  1. What a HAPPY (Little Box) posting. So glad for the parents, the kids and the sharers who made it happen.

    "And the King will answer them, ' you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'" What fun, giving Jesus a McDonald's meal thru treating His little ones.

    Bev Jones

  2. Thanks for sharing this story, Julie. We love their family! They are one..I mean six of the biggest reasons that keep drawing me back! Josh Boggs